E (Everyone)Release Date:
October 1, 2009Screenshots: LinkPrice:
The distant future…the year 1985… Earth has been completely over run by robots, and it’s up to Thexder, a transforming and apparently good robot to stop the geometric forces of evil and crush their giant blue crustacean-looking leader. This may or may not be the actual plot to the latest and greatest retro game remake from Square Enix: Thexder Neo.
I was born shortly after the “Thexder Era” so the title was completely new to me, but many who remember this game were filled with a mixture of nostalgia and glee when Square announced that Thexder would receive a modern day revamping. Thexder Neo certainly does not disappoint this crowd as it maintains its unique classic style but with an obvious graphical boost.
Thexder Neo is a rather interesting blend of classic rail shooter and all out-side scrolling Contra-like action. You control a very suspiciously Gundam-esque robot with the keen 1980’s friendly ability to transform from jet to robot and back again as the situation demands. The robot-form has much greater combat capabilities (with an auto-targeting laser) but the jet can fly and access much smaller routes. Both forms also have the ability to deploy a shield which will cost energy but also prevent damage by absorbing enemy attacks. Most of the game’s challenge comes from knowing when to fly, when to shape-shift and fight, when to deploy your shield and when to shoot since nearly every action you perform will drain your energy- resulting in swift and glorious death. It also doesn’t help that once a mindless drone manages to hit you, it somehow becomes attached to you in an endless and quite annoying parasitic fashion until your shield eventually causes it to burst.
The game is a pretty entertaining, though exceptionally brief challenge. The game can be beaten quite easily in less than an hour by playing on Easy mode and skipping straight to the exit of each level. The normal mode is much more difficult; however, this isn’t just caused by slightly more aggressive enemies and less energy recharging power ups. The primary reason normal mode is so challenging (and by extension, all old school video games) is that you are allowed just 1 life, and when you run out of energy from wasting shield and laser beams when they weren’t absolutely necessary, it’s game over.
The graphics and sound are definitely a colossal improvement from their original 1980’s Tron-style game. The hero-bot is a sleek and stylish 3D modeled transforming wonder and the backgrounds are simple, yet highly detailed environments. The enemies are simple 3D objects moving in simple paths, and when they explode there is a nice amount of detail and texture to their destruction. The sound effects are decent enough, but after a few minutes, the sound of your own laser may drive you insane. Luckily, the music is a glorious ambient sci-fi techno blend that perfectly complements this futuristic adventure.
The game is incredibly tiny – both in size (33 MB) and the time it takes to complete. Still, there is some replay value to be had in attempting to beat the higher difficulty and obtain 100% destruction on every stage. There is also an online race mode where you compete against other players to finish a level in the shortest time possible. Still, even this online option is basically a single player mode where you can see the ghosts of your “opponents” and how much faster or slower they are going than you. The sad thing I must admit is that my information regarding the online mode is actually second hand from official information available about the game. It is actually quite difficult to find a game to join.
If you were a fan of the original Thexder, you probably didn’t need to read this review and have already purchased this nostalgic little gem, but at $9.99 it’s hard to justify such a tiny little game that could have easily released as a PSP Mini (with a more Mini-friendly price).6/
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